Unbeaten Maine South pulled away in the second half for its 69th consecutive Central Suburban League division victory and handed host Evanston a 46-19 defeat that officially ended Wildkit hopes of qualifying for the Illinois High School Association state football playoffs.
Evanston will take a 3-5 record into the season finale next Friday at New Trier.
South quarterback Brian Collis threw 4 touchdown passes and completed 22-of-35 attempts for 278 yards. Halfback Justin Fahey added TD runs of 1 and 3 yards.
The Hawks, who clinched at least a tie for the league title for the 13th consecutive season, led only 28-12 at halftime. A fumble recovery by Rei Gaines in the end zone and Brandon Hilliard’s 85-yard kickoff return helped ETHS compete at a much higher level than in a previous loss to Glenbrook South, according to Wildkit head coach Mike Burzawa.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” Burzawa said. “They just made a couple more plays than we did at critical times tonight. I’m extremely proud of the way we came out and competed with them. We competed hard the whole game. We knew we had nothing to lose and I thought we were extremely aggressive in every facet of the the game, just like we needed to be.
“I’m very, very proud of our seniors. They faced more adversity, more ups and downs, than any team I’ve had in 18 years as a coach, and they really stuck together. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Hilliard’s 85-yard sprint down the right sideline cut Evanston’s deficit to 14-12 with 9 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the first half. But an offensive miscue on the next possession turned the momentum in Maine South’s favor for good.
Attempting a bubble screen pass to Hilliard from his own 20-yard line, Evanston quarterback Matt Little’s toss was instead ruled a lateral and South’s Telly Karabatsos grabbed the loose ball and returned it to the 1. Fahey scored from there.
Collis added touchdown passes to George Sargeant (4 yards), Jon Arenas (29 yards), Tommy Bazarek (21 yards) and Vinny Labus (12 yards) for the winners.
For Evanston, Little completed 13-of-25 passes for 109 yards and one interception. Hilliard was credited with 7 catches for 50 yards.
Source: ETHS Sports Information